We have four seasons on the High Desert, all of them ushered in on a windstorm. This year, as spring started springing, several major storms arrived. The worst was the first and we saw it coming.


From the west an eight foot high roll of dust was moving toward us faster than any car I've seen traveling down that dirt road. Wind skimmed off the brown earth top layer much like the Midwest dust storms of the last century. The windborne dirt particles were so fine they defied gravity and were tumbling through east at nostril height. Then things got bad. A drizzle of rain fell. Not enough to settle the dust. Only enough to turn that traveling tumbling dust cloud into a roll of sticky mud.


I closed the doors, pulled the shades, washed grit from my eyes and face, and retreated to the back of the house hiding until it passed. But, passing was not the operative verb for this dusty rolling storm. This one is better defined as reoccurring all night, or replicating like something alive, or continuing to threaten the neighborhood.


As the garage door squeaked open, the next morning an accumulation of dirt that tried to adhere to the horizontal ridges slid off slowly onto the concrete garage floor. It spilled in waterfall fashion like the picture on the old blue Morton's Salt box where the drizzle of salt escapes from the container carried by the smiling girl with the umbrella. But this wasn't salt and I wasn't smiling. This dirt was recently road across the street. It was now claiming squatter's rights on my driveway. Navigating from memory, I slowly backed the car out of the garage noting that the crackling sound of my tires squeezing thick layers of dirt over concrete sounded like driving on black ice.


This road invasion could not be ignored. It had already collected in the house where it filtered in from under, over, and in between the doors and windows. The next storm might bring it closer. The dirt road must be moved off my driveway.


Appropriately, that removal began early in the morning of April Fool's Day. After comparing notes with a neighbor about tipped over fences, in-house sand paintings, enough dirt on the roof for a vegetable garden, and related health issues, she left to take her child to kindergarten. Armed with shovel, broom, garden hose, and an attitude I moved, persuaded, and cajoled that dirt to relinquish its new location on my driveway and cooperate with my desire to take it across the street from whence it came.


This was strenuous. Desert dirt is the end product of rocks ground into small particles from years of evolution. We've read stories of how busting rocks was punishment at the former Devils Island penal colony.


I should have used a snow-shovel with its broader shovelhead, or considered renting an earth mover to scrape the road away, or hiring a cement contractor to pour a new driveway over the top. I now understand why new civilizations arise over the ruins of prior ancient structures. It takes a lot more effort to dig out that it does to cover up.


My road realignment project carved out a path to the street by leaving a five inch dirt embankment at the edges. Children returning home from elementary school passed me and my broom as they politely walked in the street. When half the driveway was cleared, middle-school children, amused by my efforts, smiled their hellos. As I was ceding to fatigue, high school students passed by and I warned them that the wet dirt on the driveway apron was slippery.


I showed off my dirt free driveway to the guest arriving the next day; but I cautioned her about the new speed bump at the curb. Although I've driven over it often, the bump remains. With time things may improve. In a few years as the level of the lawn rises because of accumulated road dirt embedded in the soil perhaps the grass will eventually grow high enough to create a barrier against future invasions. Until then, I await the next seasonal change and watch to see what it brings.